According to CNN, the latest numbers show that there are 943,865 COVID-19 cases and 54,480 deaths in America. If testing were free, accessible, and reliable to everyone, what would the true numbers of COVID-19 be? Citizens are fighting a pandemic with inadequate information, supplies, and resources. We can’t wait; communities must work together to support citizens during this unprecedented crisis.
First step is participating in a discussion on the local impacts of COVID-19. Today from 4-6pm is the “Richmond Survives Covid-19: Strengthening Our Survival Strategies Together” zoom town hall. Participants include Ada Marisol Recinos (immigrant activist), Tamisha Walker (Safe Return Project), Michelle Chan (Richmond Progressive Alliance), Melvin Willis (CC & Alliance for Californians for Community Empowerment), Dawn Haney (#nobodyisdisposable Coalition), and myself.
My focus begins on listening, identifying, and implementing the needs of residents through Richmond’s government structures and political processes. Basics such as shelter, food, healthcare, and education have to be addressed. From the CDC: “There were 3 different waves of illness during the pandemic, starting in March 1918 and subsiding by summer of 1919. The pandemic peaked in the U.S. during the second wave, in the fall of 1918. This highly fatal second wave was responsible for most of the U.S. deaths attributed to the pandemic.” We’re currently experiencing the first COVID-19 wave along with a rapid decline of an unequal economy. According to a Forbes, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (World Health Organization’s Director-General) stated in a briefing: “the worst is yet ahead of us.” What is the plan for the pandemic aftershocks? There’s no clear COVID-19 end and each possible wave exposes deficiencies within social safety nets.
In addition, there needs to be clear, concise, consistent, and focused initiatives supported by diverse coalitions. What topics can be broadly supported? Can there be consensus on the importance of shelter, food, healthcare, and education? For example, the city of Richmond is proposing a sewer rate increase during a pandemic and climbing unemployment rates. This is an additional financial burden on Richmond residents. Also, public comments on city matters have become virtual (due to COVID-19) and neglect consistent implementation of proper democratic procedures. Local government must shift and adjust priorities while building transparent trust.
Finally, what’s the final strategic plan for the future? How do we reimagine, rebuild, and strengthen programs that support core values that work for the community during/after this pandemic and economic downturn? COVID-19 exposes the weaknesses of our social structures. “Normal” is an inadequate option for providing stability and security for shelter, food, healthcare, and education.
Betty Reid Soskin: “What gets remembered is determined by who is in the room doing the remembering.” Strengthening survival strategies begins with one of many discussions. As we say in Richmond: “We Can Do It!”